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War_and_Hallucinations

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST 13 LLUCEN '2 LS NM IF FRANCE is enduring all the ravages of war with dignity and courage, England is making war with a confidence that is simply astounding. She is covering her losses with the palm of one hand, and she keeps the other one in her pocket with an air that plainly indicates that she has plenty more to lose and everything to win. She is still bringing Belgian refugees in at the rate of two thousand a day, although no one knows what she will do with them. For the Belgians refuse to emigrate to Canada. They are equally determined not to settle in England; neither are they inclined to enter domestic service, where they would be more than welcome. But they are now receiving the same hospitality in England which she has extended to them from the beginning. And she is certainly receiving no benefit at all from them. Never, I believe, has any nation accomplished so stupendous a charity or in a spirit more becoming. But I insist that it never could have been done without the aid of the hundred and sixty thousand English women who have actually done the work of taking care of them. For the refugees are alive; they were not to be packed and stored away until the war should be ended. Now, no government could place a million foreign guests in a small country unless the women of that country opened the doors of their homes and their hearts to receive them. As a private individual one may resent the assurance of Great Britain at this time when every other nation in the Old World is trembling upon its foundations; but as an unprejudiced observer of events one must confess admiration and nothing else for what she has actually achieved. Of all the countries involved in this strife England is the most secure, and naturally she acts that way. The sorrow and poverty incident to the struggle are really out of sight. They are there, of course, but unless you know where to go to find them you hardly see them at all. The effects of this war are probably more apparent in New York than in London, where there is a system for concealing the poor which could not be maintained in our country. But I venture this, not as a criticism but merely to call attention to another effect of war upon a certain part of society. The cheerfulness of these people does look queer under the circumstances. It is like finding a jolly crowd at a funeral; for every day you read the names of two or three hundred Englishmen who have died fighting for the safety of this jolly crowd. "This war is dreadful, but we just go right on trying to be cheerful, you see," said a pretty woman to me as she was leaving for the theater. I did see. And I thought of that great Frenchwoman with four sons in the army who said to me: "We make haste to laugh lest we weep." But she was ladling out soup to two thousand poor people when she said it. Nothing Settled ONE conviction cannot escape the thoughtful observer— that war does not settle anything. It unsettles everything. After thousands of men have perished, after the resources of both Germany and the Allies are so depleted that it is impossible to maintain either the offensive or the defensive with the extravagance of armies, then a sort of receivership will be arranged for these bankrupt nations. This will be called the Peace Commission. But the purpose of the Commission will be to liquidate what is left in favor of the strongest powers. These are the only dividends which war declares— so many hundred thousand dead men, so many million pauperized women and children, so many billion pounds or francs or marks or rubles in debts to be paid by each nation involved. The business of the CO.T.TC7 Peace Commission will not be to settle these terrible losses but merely to determine who shall bear the heaviest burden. Questions will be asked, of course, about the dumdum bullets, and the airship raids upon noncombatants. But what will be the good of such inquiries? The bullets have done their work, the bombs have fallen and killed innocent people. The most that can come of such an investigation will be a charge of bad manners, a breach of etiquette in "civilized" warfare. No indemnity will restore the dead. And, after all, why complain of these comparatively insignificant outrages when the real ruin has been accomplished by the regular armies according to the best manners and customs in this business of killing? Some people who do not understand the occult side of warfare will also want to know why, if Germany wished to help Austria punish Servia for the death of the Archduke, did she march with all her forces in another direction, across Belgium and against France, where nobody's archduke had been murdered. Whatever explanation is given, it will not affect the facts that Belgium has been destroyed and France devastated. It will not restore Louvain nor the Cathedral at Rheims nor the men who have perished, nor will it give back the burned homes to the women and children. And suppose the military power of Germany is crushed, what will be the good of that if the theory of militarism survives anywhere in the civilized world? The thing is monstrous by any name. There should be a Sullivan Law for nations as well as for individuals. The unit in law is the nation, not the individual. If the nation which breeds the man fights and burns and plunders to get what it wants, why should not the man kill and burn and steal to get what he wants? Chiefly because he has not a million men back of him to insure the "honor" of the crime. So war unsettles every standard of justice in the name of justice, and on a scale so tremendous that it is literally impossible to restore the balance. And that is not all of it nor the worst of it. War unsettles social standards, exalts force at the expense of those who have not the strength to withstand it. At the present time in France the civilian must keep in the background. Every cart, carriage and foot passenger in any road in France must not only get out of the road at the sight of a military equipage, but must stand humbly still till the great thing goes by. The soldier, though he may be a fool with rings in his ears, is greater than the scholar, or the artisan, or any other mere citizen. The idea is: "I'm saving the country; get out of my way!" The fact is, he is devastating the country which the citizen will be a long time saving after the soldier is done devastating it. The men who die in the fight are heroes, but those who survive will not be so fit to endure the long siege of life after the strife is ended. For war makes men intemperate. It informs them with military standards of honor and virtue, which are not the standards of honor and vii ,,ue in times of peace. The soldier especially too often makes a sorry workingman for all we hear of changing swords to plowshares. And too often he makes only a casual husband to his wife. It is not good for any man to have his sense of personal entity augmented by that of thousands of fighting men on both sides of him. He seldom recovers from that. After the army disbands he returns to his fireside, only one man, but still with that illusion of power inside. Having met a terrific emergency with a warrior's courage, he does not afterward so readily meet the long-drawn-out emergencies of earning his own living and providing for his family without martial music. The fireside is a dull place, effeminate. He has acquired the camp instinct. He must "mess" with other men, and he is apt to do that, as long as he lives, at the expense of his wife and children. War and the Parasite Class THIS is the history of men who have been soldiers in all ages. They are often not the best citizens in times of peace. They are often not the best husbands or the wisest fathers, because there is no superior officer to see that every man does his duty every day for the next forty years. There is only one class of men and women who are not affected by war as I have seen war. It does not make them, because there is nothing in them to make. It does not destroy them, because there is nothing in them to destroy. They are not always rich nor are they necessarily idle, but they are always parasites of one sort or another, people who have no life of their own and who subsist either emotionally or literally upon the vitality of other people. They are of ten industrious, but this is the form of their industry— preying upon others. They are often emotional, but this is the form of their sensibility— feeling what others suffer for pastime, not suffering themselves. The men of this class never fight, but they profit through the adversity of those who do fight. The women of this class never wear mourning, because they are the women of these men who do not die for their country and who live only for themselves. They are to be found in every country at all times, but always living at the expense of those who are struggling and dying. Fortunately they are not in the majority. If they were, nations could not exist. After close contact with the women in the war zone and as careful study as I am capable of making concerning the conditions which face them, I can see only one advantage for them growing out of this struggle. That is the necessity they will labor under of facing the inevitable with no protection worth the name, and no strength except that which they find in themselves. After all, this is an immense advantage to those who have the courage to grasp it. The theory of modern civilization has been to protect women as much as possible from the hardships of life, to keep them in idleness and comfort, to desiccate them mentally and morally and (Continued on Page 69)


War_and_Hallucinations
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